PM: Decapitation video shows Islamic State is 'pure evil'

THE global release of an Islamic State video of an American journalist being decapitated demonstrates the terrorist group is "pure evil", Prime Minister Tony Abbott said today.

A video published online depicted the gruesome murder of journalist Steven Sotloff, only days after a similar video was released of the same act on journalist James Foley.

Mr Abbott said the "televised decapitation" abundantly justified what Australia and other countries were doing to help those threatened by the "murderous rage" of the ISIS.

"This is a conflict which we understandably wish to avoid, but it is a conflict which, sadly, is reaching out to us as we have seen with the presence of some 60 Australians fighting with terrorist groups in this part of the world," he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Abbott said while the world had a right to be absolutely appalled by "what is happening in Iraq", "we obviously have to use our judgement in our response".

His comments come as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister David Johnston prepared to leave for Wales for NATO meetings to discuss the international response.

Other issues expected to be discussed were the international response to Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, Australia's role in Afghanistan and the continued Syrian conflict.